You may have heard the rumor that our beloved Ute Valley Park is going downhill. With close ties to UVP, I can confirm that for the past month, several people have indeed been involved in helping UVP take the plunge.

No, this is not part of some nefarious scheme to negatively impact our beloved park, but the fulfillment of an element within the Colorado Springs Master Plan to construct the first purpose-built downhill mountain bike course in an open space within the city’s parks system. Pending cooperation from our always-changing springtime weather, the downhill course should be open in the next three to four weeks.

The preliminary design concept for the downhill course was completed during the Ute Valley Park Master Plan process. The Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Culture staff then worked to develop and define the course trail in relationship to the terrain of the open space and provide a flag line for the contractor along which to build the trail. The location and design are being constructed by professional trail builders.

With the professional purpose-built trails and features, the trails become more sustainable than user-created rogue or social trails. The new trails will require less maintenance in the long run but still will require attention. The trails will be looked at throughout the year to find maintenance needs and address any issues. Maintenance efforts will be completed by Parks staff as well as through the volunteer efforts directed by the Friends of Ute Valley Park and the Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates.

I reached out to David Deitemeyer overseeing the project on behalf of the Colorado Springs Parks to learn more about course details:

“There is about a 150-foot vertical drop. The two downhill trails will be rated black — difficult. This is per the Ute Valley Park Master Plan, which details the classification of the trail design and associated criteria with the rating. Including trail width, grades, types of obstacles, etc.,” he said.

In addition to the two downhill trails on the course, David said there is also a return trail allowing course users a climbing trail to return to the top of the course. That trail is open to two-way hiking, equestrian use and uphill-only bike use.

“There was a very coordinated effort with trail construction schedule and that of the fuels mitigation project, led by the Colorado Springs Fire Department and City Forestry, in the same area,” David said. “The trail project worked directly behind the completed forestry work to limit the disturbance completed trail work. It also provided an opportunity to use mulch from the forestry project on trails closure and site restoration. All of this has proved to be quite successful.”

In this case, “going downhill” is positive, and the Friends of Ute Valley Park are excited about this first-of-its-kind recreational addition coming soon to our park. In the days ahead, there will be more information and publicity about the opening of the downhill course. When that time comes, we invite you to come experience it for yourself.

A member of the Friends of Ute Valley Park, Phill Emmert writes this periodic column to keep readers informed about the public park between Vindicator Drive and Centennial Boulevard.

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